Live Review: Never Say Die Tour – Manchester

Live Review: Never Say Die Tour - Club Academy, Manchester
22nd November 2023
Featuring: Reduction, Left To Suffer, Fox Lake, ten56., Nasty, King 810
Words: Dan Barnes
Photos: Bill Mawdsley

Impericon’s Never Say Die touring package has been an annual event that hits the clubs of Europe every November since the mid-noughties, with half-a-dozen top bands you both have and haven’t heard and a very competitive ticket price. Prior iterations of the show have seen Parkway Drive, Despised Icon, Terror and more take the headliner’s slot. My first introduction was in 2019 when Crystal Lake and In Heart’s Wake topped it, though I bought my ticket purely for King 810, if truth be told; but that’s not to say the other bands on the bill weren’t thoroughly entertaining.

German five-piece Reduction take the stage at an unfeasibly early time for a Wednesday, getting the evening’s ball rolling with some blackened hardcore and massive beatdowns. Colorado residents, Fox Lake have come a long way for these shows and aren’t about the waste the opportunity. They kick off with Tunnel Vision from the Silence & Violence album, showcasing their amalgamation of hard metalcore and urban vibes. 484 borrows much of a style from tonight’s headliner, showing that great music has no boundaries. Chamber had been forced to withdraw from the tour, but that meant Left to Suffer had the opportunity to demolish venues across the continent. Their metallic hardcore meets deathcore finding favour with the steadily growing crowd, not least because of the unmistakable groove.

Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley

Making a third visit to Manchester since Easter are Parisians Ten56. who pick up exactly where they left off at RADAR back in July. Almost all the Downer album gets played tonight, with the likes of Diazepam, Yenta and Saiko showing the band’s chops when it comes to combining hard hitting hardcore with urban rhythms. There are calls for all the able-bodied to bounce, as the band channel the old school Hardcore sounds through infectious grooves and two-stepping beats. Monstrous beatdowns accompany the likes of Shitsplitter and Sick Dog; there are walls of death and a ladies-only moshpit and the times when Ten56.’s sound stands adjacent to King’s are the times when the band are at their scintillating best. RLS has something of a post hardcore sound, while the closing trio of Ender, Boy and Kimo leave the crowd wanting more. Manchester love Ten56. And as long as they continue to deliver shows like this, Manchester always will.

Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley

Although ostensibly a hardcore band, to label Nasty from Kelmis in Belgium, as such would be a great disservice to both the band and the genre. Have been at this for close to twenty years by this point and have eight albums worth of material from which to choose, Nasty opt to visit seven of them tonight, leaving only 2008’s Aggression out in the cold. Roses begins things with a huge low end, Chaos chugs along at a slow pace with sawing guitars and a massive breakdown, with each of drummer, Christian Fitz’s hits coming across like a mini explosion. People of the Fire goes for the same slow and steady glacial weigh, while Resurrection is all about the killer beatdown.

Even though At War with Love is dedicated to all the heartbroken in the audience it still holds a distinctly Slayer-like riff at its core. Shokka, from the album of the same name, is filled with pummelling rhythms, whereas 666AM comes with a call to dance and is about chasing down your demons. Oddly, I can’t help but hear a Meshuggah polyrhythm in the introduction to Zero Tolerance – was listening to Obzen on the way into Manchester tonight – and the show ends with the crossover big beats of Slaves to the Rich. It’s not often you get to see Nasty in town, so this was another great reason to get a ticket for this show.

Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley

Predictably, my big drawn for Never Say Die 2023 is Flint’s favourite sons, King 810. This was my third show by the band since the Alpha Wolf gig at Rebellion on Easter Monday. And, while the band were more focused on being a band that night, their Bloodstock performance in the summer showed them to have more than a smattering of the theatrical about them. Tonight’s show is closer to August, though the size of the production is obviously greatly reduced, the scope of the show it still bigger than the venue. None of King’s albums have been the same and the show is made up of a dozen tracks from the five major releases. Following the masked drummer’s acted statement, the slinking Love Under Will begins, with Eugine and David taking the stage at opportune moments.

Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley

Central to the stage is a piano, not there as part of the band’s instrumentation, rather a prop to be utilised throughout, as though beneath its lid secrets are hidden. Alpha & Omega and Murder Murder Murder find the crowd in good voice, Brains on the Asphalt, Say Cheese and Die and Widdershins have become accepted into the live show like they’ve been about since the beginning, and Vendettas and Hellhounds never cease to get the blood rushing.

David uses the top of the piano as a place recline while singing Heavy Lies the Crown, and the street anthem that is Fat Around the Heart still has the power to break suburban youth out in a cold sweat. Before the usual closer of Killem All is an unexpected Black Rifles, which sees David alone at a small keyboard to the side of the stage.

Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley

The image that was present in King’s early career and the accusations of being Slipknot copyists is all but gone, except from the most ill-informed. What we’re left with is a creative pairing comfortable pushing the boundaries of their art. Each release is a journey through David Gunn’s psyche, with Eugine Gill providing the soundtrack.

Never Say Die is always a great event to attend; understated, but there’s certainly going to be at least two bands you’ll love on next year’s bill, even if you don’t know it yet.

Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley
Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley

Photo credits: Bill Mawdsley

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